The Info List - Red Heifer

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The red heifer (Hebrew: פָרָה אֲדֻמָּה‬; para adumma), also known as the red cow, was a cow brought to the priests as a sacrifice according to the Hebrew Bible, and its ashes were used for the ritual purification of Tum'at HaMet ("the impurity of the dead"), that is, an Israelite
who had come into contact with a corpse.[1]


1 Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible

1.1 Book of Numbers

2 Mishnah

2.1 Details of the commandment 2.2 Jewish tradition 2.3 Temple Institute

3 Christian tradition

3.1 Christians

4 Ancient Greek mythology 5 Modern-day usage 6 References 7 External links

Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
(Torah)[edit] Book of Numbers[edit] According to: "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke". (Numbers 19:2) The Book of Numbers
Book of Numbers
stipulates that the cow must be red in color, without blemish, and it must not have been used to perform work. (Numbers 19:2) The heifer is then ritually slaughtered (Numbers 19:3) and burned outside of the camp (Numbers 19:3–6). Cedar wood, hyssop, and wool or yarn dyed scarlet are added to the fire, and the remaining ashes are placed in a vessel containing pure water. (Numbers 19:9) In order to purify a person who has become ritually contaminated by contact with a corpse, water from the vessel is sprinkled on him, using a bunch of hyssop, on the third and seventh day of the purification process. (Numbers 19:18-19) The priest who performs the ritual then becomes ritually unclean, and must then wash himself and his clothes in running waters. He is deemed impure until evening. Mishnah[edit] The Mishnah, the central compilation of Rabbinic Oral Law, contains a tractate on the Red Heifer, Tractate Parah ("Cow") in Seder Tohorot, which explains the procedures involved. The tractate has no existing Gemara, although commentary on key elements of the procedure is found in the Gemarah for other tractates of the Talmud. According to Mishnah Parah, the presence of two black hairs invalidates a Red Heifer, in addition to the usual requirements of an unblemished animal for sacrifice. Details of the commandment[edit] There are various other requirements, such as natural birth.[2] The water must be "living" i.e. spring water. This is a stronger requirement than for a ritual bath. Rainwater accumulated in a cistern is permitted for a mikveh, but cannot be used in the Red Heifer ceremony. The Mishnah
reports that in the days of the Temple in Jerusalem, water for the ritual came from the Pool of Siloam. The ceremony involved was complex and detailed. To ensure complete ritual purity of those involved, enormous care was taken to ensure that no-one involved in the Red Heifer ceremony could have had any contact with the dead or any form of tumah, and implements were made of materials, such as stone, which in Jewish law do not act as carriers for ritual impurities. The Mishnah
recounts that children were used to draw and carry the water for the ceremony, children born and reared in isolation for the specific purpose of ensuring that they never came into contact with a corpse:

There were courtyards in Jerusalem
built over [the virgin] rock and below them a hollow [was made] lest there might be a grave in the depths, and pregnant women were brought and bore their children there, and there they reared them. And oxen were brought, and on their backs were laid doors on top of which sat the children with cups of stone in their hands. When they arrived in Shiloah [the children] alighted, and filled [the cups with water], and mounted, and again sat on the doors —  Mishna
Parah 3:2

Various other devices were used, including a causeway from the Temple Mount to the Mount of Olives
Mount of Olives
so that the Heifer and accompanying priests would not come in contact with a grave.[3] According to the Mishnah, the ceremony of the burning of the red heifer itself took place on the Mount of Olives. A ritually pure kohen slaughtered the heifer, and sprinkled of its blood in the direction of the Temple seven times. The Red Heifer was then burnt on a pyre, together with crimson dyed wool, hyssop, and cedar wood. In recent years, the site of the burning of the Red Heifer on the Mount of Olives has been tentatively located by archaeologist Yonatan Adler.[4] Jewish tradition[edit] The existence of a red heifer that conforms with all of the rigid requirements imposed by halakha is a biological anomaly.[clarification needed] The animal must be entirely of one color, and there is a series of tests listed by the rabbis to ensure this; for instance, the hair of the cow must be absolutely straight (to ensure that the cow had not previously been yoked, as this is a disqualifier). According to Jewish tradition, only nine Red Heifers were actually slaughtered in the period extending from Moses
to the destruction of the Second Temple. Mishnah
Parah recounts them, stating that Moses
prepared the first, Ezra
the second, Simon the Just
Simon the Just
and Yochanan the High Priest prepared two each, and Elioenai ben HaQayaph, Hanameel the Egyptian, and Yishmael ben Pi'avi prepared one each ( Mishna
Parah 3:5). The absolute rarity of the animal, combined with the detailed ritual in which it is used, have given the Red Heifer special status in Jewish tradition. It is cited as the prime example of a ḥok, or biblical law for which there is no apparent logic. Because the state of ritual purity obtained through the ashes of a Red Heifer is a necessary prerequisite for participating in Temple service, efforts have been made in modern times by Jews wishing for biblical ritual purity (see tumah and taharah) and in anticipation of the building of The Third Temple
The Third Temple
to locate a red heifer and recreate the ritual. However, multiple candidates have been disqualified, as late as 2002. (See the "Temple Institute" section below.) Temple Institute[edit] Main article: Temple Institute The Temple Institute, an organization dedicated to preparing the reconstruction of a Third Temple
Third Temple
in Jerusalem, has been attempting to identify Red Heifer candidates consistent with the requirements of Numbers 19:1–22 and Mishnah
Tractate Parah.[5][6] In recent years, the institute thought to have identified two candidates, one in 1997 and another in 2002.[7] The Temple Institute
Temple Institute
had initially declared both kosher, but later found each to be unsuitable but currently claim that they have a third candidate. Of late, the Institute has been raising funds in order to use modern technology to produce a red heifer that is genetically based on the Red Angus.[8] Christian tradition[edit] The non-canonical Epistle of Barnabas
Epistle of Barnabas
(8:1) explicitly equates the Red Heifer with Jesus. In the New Testament, the phrases "without the gate" (Hebrews 13:12) and "without the camp" (Numbers 19:3, Hebrews 13:13) have been taken to be not only an identification of Jesus
with the Red Heifer, but an indication as to the location of the crucifixion. This is the thesis of Ernest L. Martin in his 1984 book Secrets of Golgotha.[citation needed] Christians[edit] Some Fundamentalist Christians believe that the Second Coming
Second Coming
of Jesus Christ cannot occur until the Third Temple
Third Temple
is constructed in Jerusalem, which requires the appearance of a red heifer born in Israel. Clyde Lott, a cattle breeder in O'Neill, Nebraska, is attempting to systematically breed red heifers and export them to Israel to establish a breeding line of red heifers in Israel in the hope that this will bring about the construction of the Third Temple and ultimately the Second Coming
Second Coming
of Jesus.[9] Ancient Greek mythology[edit] The red heifer was also considered sacred to the Greek god Apollo.[citation needed] They are featured in many myths, including that of the creation of the lyre. In it Hermes steals Apollo's red heifers and then hides them. To escape Apollo's rage, Hermes creates the lyre. Geryon, the mythical three-bodied creature slain by Heracles, had red cattle, according to Pseudo-Apollodorus,[10] which Heracles
stole as his tenth labor. Modern-day usage[edit] The red heifer is the official mascot of Gann Academy, a Jewish high school located in Waltham, Massachusetts.[11] References[edit]

^ Carmichael, Calum (2012). The Book of Numbers: a Critique of Genesis. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. pp. 103–121. ISBN 9780300179187.  ^ (Caesarian section renders a Heifer candidate invalid) ^ Mishnayoth Seder Taharoth, translated and annotated by Phillip Blackman, Judaica Press, 2000. ^ Y. Adler, "The Site of the Burning of the Red Heifer on the Mount of Olives", Techumin, 22 (2002), pp. 537–542. (Hebrew) ^ "The Mystery of the Red Heifer: Divine Promise of Purity". Templeinstitute.org. 2008-01-31. Retrieved 2015-06-03.  ^ "Apocalypse Cow". The New York Times. March 30, 1997. Retrieved December 21, 2013.  ^ "News Flash: Red Heifer Born in Israel!". Templeinstitute.org. Retrieved 2015-06-03.  ^ http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/The-quest-for-the-red-heifer-An-ancient-commandment-meets-modern-technology-412065 accessdate= August 15, 2015 ^ "Readings Apocalypse! Frontline". Pbs.org. Retrieved 2015-06-03.  ^ "Library of Apollodoros". Perseus Encyclopedia. Retrieved 28 January 2015.  ^ "Teams". Gannacademy.com. Retrieved 2015-06-03. 

External links[edit]

"Ashes and Water - From the Chassidic Masters" The St